I would like to think of myself as a generally smart guy. Yeah, self
appreciation is frowned upon but I can be objective (I think) about
myself and yes, I think I am smart (but I do dumb stuff. My students can
tell a dozen stories about how I have done the silliest of mistakes
over the years since they work so closely with me) and that has helped
me a lot.
To be more specific, I am the kind of guy who, if
shown the direction (or even a tiny hint of direction), I can find the
rest of my way through the worst possible and dangerous and ludicrous
jungle (as in problems). It is this ability of mine that has helped me
become a good (if not the greatest) developer and also helped me a lot
whenever I face challenges when working as a trainer.
Okay, is this post about praising my mentor or myself?
thing is, although I am smart, I still need to find that direction (or
that hint of direction). It's always like that with solving problems.
The starting point, the 'right' starting point is all it takes to find a
solution. Sometimes, all available starting points lead to a solution.
The distinction between them is that some starting points are better
And that is where my mentor comes into the picture.
His name is Mika Varjonen. He is awesome. He is patient. He is an
incredible human being. More importantly, he is patient (I already said
that didn’t I but he is worth second mentions) and if an apocalypse were
to strike earth, I know that there is one other human being (other than
my elite study nildana students) on whom I can count on to take on the
zombies and restore balance to earth!
I met Mika back in 2013.
When I say met, its not a face to face meeting or a social gathering
interaction. There was this game. It was called 'Galactic Reign'. The
game was an online turn based game, not so different than Civilization
or to some extent chess. I met mika on a random online match, and we
ended up using Xbox Live chat system to interact. I would constantly
beat him (sorry mika. I had to mention this) but he would not react
angrily or even get upset. He would immediately come back for a rematch
with no hard feelings of any kind. Like I have said before, he is a
super cool guy.
Eventually, the game itself died but our
friendship continued. I found he was a Microsoft developer and my
livelihood was .NET, and I asked him if he could help. This was how we
really hit it on. He was a super awesome developer and I was but a
(hopefully humble) learner. I knew some stuff but in front of him, I
literally knew nothing.
From then, since now, I must have been
stuck constantly while working as a developer and a trainer. Yes, I am
smart (again, with the self appreciation. Come on Jay, what's wrong with
you!) but I still find that 'starting point' I have talked about. Like
most developers I use a combination of memory, experience, online
sources (stackoverflow, msdn, msdn social, blogs) to find that 'starting
That is where mika comes in. You see, if I were to weigh
mika on one side (not literally of course :P) and all the other
resources on the other side, mika still outweighs them 100 to 1. He is
like this incredible library of knowledge and experience. Whenever I get
stuck (and I will admit I get stuck) I consult with him and he
immediately shows me that starting point. Of course, there are times
when he actually comes along with me through the jungle on some really
tricky and rare scenarios.
That means, if today I am doing well
as a professional, I would like to chalk that to his help. It won’t be
wrong to say that he has played a major role in shaping my thought
process. That's not it. The technology world is constantly changing (if
I had a rupee every time someone wrote that!) and I like and I do keep
up. However, mika has a foresight that I am still developing. He can
tell me where I should be next career wise, and most of the time, he
ends up being right.
Further, the knowledge he passes on to me, I
pass on to my study nildana students. While he is my mentor, he is a
surrogate mentor to each and every member at study nildana. In addition
to this, he has a full time job, a family and lots of other
responsibilities. Not to forget the time difference between India and
Finland. Despite all this, he somehow finds the time to help me.
I like to talk about technology. I like to discuss technology because
it is fascinating. There is a certain joy that comes by talking about,
discussing company strategies, breakthroughs and extinction of tech that
is past its prime. As a developer from India, I have no access to such
individuals. My work colleagues and friends (many are software
developers) are pretty cool folks but they simply don’t discuss and
disperse technology. This is not a complaint but rather an observation.
However, I am convinced that the world gets better when people talk to
each other, meet and discuss. Worlds aren't built by being quiet. They
are built by people who get together, meet, greet and discuss
So, Mika. I take this opportunity to thank you. I
hope, that I am good mentee and I hope, someday I will be able to repay
what you have done for me. Of course, that is impossible as I am
already, eternally in debt for your mentorship.
Thanks again man.
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